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the Degree Confluence Project
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Svalbard

7.5 km (4.7 miles) N of Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 79°S 168°W

Accuracy: 15 m (49 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Imram, arctic sailboat, negotiating icebergs in Svalbard #3: View to the East of the confluence. An Iceberg in front of us #4: The GPS while on the confluence #5: View to the West  of the confluence #6: View to the South of the confluence #7: Once upon a time this was a peninsula (Copyright Norsk Polarinstitutt) #8: Ice climbing under the midnight sun nearby the confluence

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  79°N 12°E (visit #3)  

#1: View to the North of the confluence, and general view

(visited by Salvatore Mele, Peter Gallinelli and Imram)

17-Aug-2004 -- Imram is a 12.50m aluminum sailboat, the prototype of a new series: the Integral . She has been designed to sail fast and safely in the unforgiving arctic waters, zig-zagging between icebergs (Picture #2) should need be.

After a successful travel in 2003 from France to the uncharted waters of Greenland, and a winter spent in Iceland, in summer 2004 we sailed from Iceland to Norway and eventually to remote Svalbard. On the plan, together with mountaineering in the wilderness, wildlife sighting and sailing as far north as you can, was also confluence visiting. A sailboat is indeed a wonderful and environment-friendly confluence-visiting tool in that it gives access to many of those magic, round-number, intersections which are at sea, in places ofter unreachable with any other transport.

Among such confluences on water, among stunning landscapes, we had remarked 79N12E, which was close to our planned route around Spitzberg, just inside scenic Kongsfjorden.

We knew 79N12E had already been visited, but this happened in winter, when the sea inside the fjord is frozen and the previous visitor could drive a motor sledge to the point. We decided to visit this site in summer, in the small time-window in which there is no ice in the fjord, so as to capture a completely different scenery.

Very light winds on August 17th, 2004, suggested the use of our inboard engine. It was late afternoon, which means the sun was roughly to the west, while during the night it was to the north and so on: magic of the far north of the midnight sun! We were, since a few days, on our way back South, after a failed attempt to circumnavigate the Spitzberg island through stormy and icy Hinlopen strait, which we had first to sail southward, get almost stuck in ice and, at the perspective of a looooooooong winter there, then sail again northward. After a few exhilarating mountain trips in the remote North East of Svalbard, and outstanding food, the mood onboard was high and it took no long discussions to agree for the confluence strategy. Like for the other points before (69N16E, 70N20E, 80N14E and 80N16E) and previous experience of the scriba in the Mediterranean (43N10E) it was by now known that you do not stop nicely on such a point 10 tons of sailboat loaded with eight crew members, food to face the possibility of a winter trapped in ice, large amount of spares to face almost all posssible reparations, enough medical material to face many possible emergencies, and large amounts of mountaineering material. We would have sailed straight through the confluence.

We therefore entered the fjord around 1330 UTC coming from the West, easily reached the 79N, and slowly made our way East to the 20E. At a given moment, we saw a large iceberg, probably calved off the huge Blomstrandbreen glacier, right in front of us (Picture #3), but the confluence was a few hundred meters before it, and we did not have to hone our ice climbing skill -yet- to reach that point.

In a few minutes more we were on the magic spot, as the onboard GPS promptly informed us (Picture #4). The scenery around us was simply fantastic. To the East (Picture #3), and to the North (Picture #1) the massive Blomstrandbreen, to the West (Picture #5) the mouth of the fjord and the open sea. A most strange polished rock structure (Picture #6) was to our South. Its name, Blomstrandhalvøya (Picture #7) on a map of twenty years ago, told it was a peninsula and it was clear that a day it had just appeared from below the glacier responsible for its erosion. Later, we would have pushed East to give a look to the point where this peninsula meets the glacier... to discover that there was no such a point anymore. As a consequence of the global warming which is melting the glaciers of our planet, the Blomstrandbreen had retreated so much to transform the peninsula into an island!

How did we celebrate the confluence? We anchored, we reached the Blomstrandbreen and we went for an exilarating ice-climbing session below the midnight sun (Picture #8)!


 All pictures
#1: View to the North of the confluence, and general view
#2: Imram, arctic sailboat, negotiating icebergs in Svalbard
#3: View to the East of the confluence. An Iceberg in front of us
#4: The GPS while on the confluence
#5: View to the West of the confluence
#6: View to the South of the confluence
#7: Once upon a time this was a peninsula (Copyright Norsk Polarinstitutt)
#8: Ice climbing under the midnight sun nearby the confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)